the church of the yeah yeah yo

This week in London, Kate Bush performed her first concerts in 35 years. It is, not surprisingly, the talk of the UK. I can confirm that shortly, as I will be there  48 hours or so, in time for the final concerts in an ambitious series of theatrical KB presentations. Of course, unless I come into a great deal of during those hours, I will not be attending.

Still, being there is half the battle. Which reminds me, I may not have anything new for you good people until late September, at which point I hope to once again revamp this little blog to focus a more on deserving local artists and less on tangential rants. Which reminds me of a story… But I digress.

So back to KB and her uphill run in Hammersmith. In a career full of remarkable accomplishments, she appears to have once again achieved the improbable: no one, it seems, has thus far successfully filmed even one song from the shows and posted it online. Neil Young would be proud.

Well, there was a one minute and thirty-eight second excerpt from the opening night performance of Cloudbusting, filmed from very far away with a not very good camera. But even that is now gone from the virtual sensual world that is YouTube. Still, during its brief run, the clip gave a proper taste of KB’s still immense talent. Moreover, it catapulted the viewer back to the mid-1980s. More specifically, back to the curious “Yeah yeah yo!” scare that ruled the charts for a brief and bizarre few years.

It’s never been made clear exactly what the significance of the yeah-yeah-yo chant is or was. Was it some sort of anti-Thatcher rant? A call for the end of Apartheid South Africa? A salute to padded shoulders? Some sort of occult indoctrination? (No, that was the 1970s.) We may never know. Yet, hit after hit by the likes of Big Country, Howard Jones and Duran Duran echoed the curious cry, usually repeated mantra-like through to the song’s fade. Even veteran like Tina Turner resorted to a “Yeah yeah yo!” or two, in an effort to speak the language of kids of the ’80s.

It’s a forgotten chapter of the ’80s, perhaps with good reason. (By the 1990s, hip hop artists were turning the cry on its head, injecting “Yo yeah!” into more than one song.) And no one, but no one, drew on the powers of the mysterious phrase like Kate Bush. Hounds of Love, the album that turned the enigmatic artist from a curiosity into a regular pop star on our shores, spawning four much-loved singles. Each is awash with defiant bellows of “Yeah! Yeah! Yo!” More than one is seemingly constructed around the phrase. Clearly, there’s more here than meets the ear.

Then again, it was the 1980s. So, probably not.

And yet, as thousands joyously unleash their inner “Yeah yeah yo” at each of Kate Bush’s concerts over the next few days, one wonders whether the never-ending ’80s revival may yet culminate in millions chanting a nonsensical cry in unison.

OK, that still happens all the time. But I’m talking about a specific nonsensical cry.

And if anyone can bring it back, it may as well be Kate Bush. It might even explain her return after years of living happily in seclusion somewhere in England. Perhaps greater forces are at work. (See cult reference, above.)

Stranger things have happened — especially in the career of Kate Bush.

Yeah? Yeah!


Nope, I still don’t get it. But damn if it isn’t stuck in my head.



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